Reply to DR. Shuey

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Thu Oct 5 00:54:24 EDT 2000

>From R.Gatrelle (again)
    I've been waiting to see if anyone responded to John Shuey's comments.
has not happened today so I guess I'll go ahead and do so. First, this note
is more to a "straw man" than to John. John, the papers may indeed have been
"really bad" but most of us can't say because we don't know what they are.
But somebody must have thought they were OK because they got published.
    You said "bad paperS" and "several journalS." The plurality here -- esp.
with journalS -- could indicate that it was not so much a case of actually
bad papers or slack journals but A bad review(er). There are chronically bad
reviewers just like there are chronically bad researchers. Next, when you
say "all were rejected" do you mean by you or by the Journals based on your
advise? If you rejected them but the Journals published them (I assume on
their other reviewers endorsements) then it was not the article that "really
sucked" but the review.
    There is a big difference between the words critique and critical.
Critique has an negative element in it. Critical is nothing but negative.
When I review something my mind set is to critique it, I do not set out to
see how critical I can be of it. I agree with Yanega that it would be good
if reviewers never knew who the authors were (although style often betrays
authorship). And I agree with Gochfeld that authors should know who the
reviewers are. (For their reasons.)
    I have NEVER viewed a names inclusion in the acknowledgment section of a
paper to indicate that said reviewer "completely endorsed" the presentation.
It is simply a polite thank you to someone who invested a lot of their time
in critiquing the paper. You know, two reviewers for and one against -- but
all three get thanked. They are "referees" -- like the three judges at a
boxing match.
    When Dr. Richard Brown was asked by me (along with two others) to review
my article in TTR 1:10 he critiqued it to pieces. For which I am very
grateful. This resulted in me rewriting several aspects of it because I had
miscommunicated what I was trying to say. I also had some wrong info that
needed to go or be adjusted. As basically a lumper, he flat out disagreed
with several of my concepts. However, the bottom line was that HE ADVISED ME
TO PUBLISH the new subspecies, even though he probably would not. He did not
let his own taxonomic philosophy strangle the flow of thought to the
scientific community by telling my editor to reject it because it "sucked"
in his opinion. This was lumper/splitter bipartisanship. Unfortunately,
there really are people who think of themselves as the taxonomic gods. They
are just SOB's. And I pity the people who are forced to have them as
anonymous reviewers. Please, I know John and he is a great guy. As I said,
this is basically to a Straw Man.

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Shuey" <jshuey at>
To: "leps" <leps-l at>
Sent: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 2:49 PM
Subject: [Fwd: TTR reviewers and peer review part II.]

> > > Mike Gochfeld wrote:
> > >
> > > >I think the playing field is shifting (gradually) to fewer anonymous
> > > >reviews, which in the long run is likely to make the peer review
> > > >more constructive and less destructive.
> >
> > Another issue worth considering - I used to always sign my reviews - I
> > the author(s) at least deserved to know who applauded or panned their
> > work.  Now I think twice, because of the following  scenario that never
> > occurred to me until it actually happened.
> I reviewed (signed reviews) a series a really (and I mean really) bad
> for several journals.  All were rejected for a variety of good reasons.
> papers later showed up with my name included in the acknowledgments,
> me for my review of an earlier draft.  These papers still really suck, but
> my name has been appended to them, implying that I endorse both the
science and
> the conclusions.  A complete embarrassment to me and in my opinion
> unethical behavior on the part of the authors.
> I could write this off as an single disturbed senior author, except that
it has
> happened again recently with someone else.
> So, I think twice about signing reviews of really bad papers now.
> Could this be a strategy that people are using to avoid potentially
> reviewers by implying that they have already read and provided input to a
> paper????
> John Shuey

More information about the Leps-l mailing list